Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why Food Storage and Emergency Preparedness?

Why Food Storage and Emergency Preparedness?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints First Presidency released the following letter:

January 20, 2002
To: General Authorities; Area Authority Seventies; Stake, Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and Branch Presidents
Dear Brethren: Home Storage and Financial Reserves
Priesthood and Relief Society leaders should teach the importance of home storage and securing a financial reserve. These principles may be taught in ward councils or on a fifth Sunday in priesthood and Relief Society meetings.
Church members can begin their home storage by storing the basic foods that would be required to keep them alive if they did not have anything else to eat. Depending on where members live, those basics might include water, wheat or other grains, legumes, salt, honey or sugar, powdered milk, and cooking oil. When members have stored enough of these essentials to meet the needs of their family for one year, they may decide to add other items that they are accustomed to using day to day.
Some members do not have the money or space for such storage, and some are prohibited by law from storing a year's supply of food. These members should store as much as their circumstances allow. Families who do not have the resources to acquire a year's supply can begin their storage by obtaining supplies to last for a few months. Members should be prudent and not panic or go to extremes in this effort. Through careful planning, most Church members can, over time, establish both a financial reserve and a year's supply of essentials.
Sincerely yours,
The First Presidency

The First Presidency felt that the gospel principle of self reliance and food storage was important enough that they released a written statement in 2002 to the body of the church. In many wards this letter was read from the pulpit.

In June of 2011 another statement was issued:

June 1, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the welfare program of the Church. The pages that follow include a brief history of the origin of the program, will acquaint you with the Church’s international welfare efforts, and show welfare principles at work in the lives of Church members throughout the world.

This anniversary serves as a reminder for all of us to become more self-reliant and to help people help themselves. As you review this special section, we encourage you and your family to prayerfully consider and act upon self-reliance and other welfare principles.

Sincerely yours,

The First Presidency (with all their signatures)

The June 2011 Ensign included an article entitled Providing In The Lord's Way. The following are excerpts from that article.

To provide in the Lord’s way, we must develop our own self-reliance and then seek to help others become self-reliant.

The 75th anniversary of the welfare plan—commemorated this year—gives Latter-day Saints the opportunity to reflect on basic principles such as becoming self-reliant, caring for the poor and needy, and serving others. When we live these principles, we are better able to alleviate suffering, build character, and foster unity.

The entire article can be read here: Providing In The Lord's Way

It is clear as we look at the world around us that our Leader's are warning us to the Signs of the Times. These warnings have been going on for many years. Perhaps this is why so many have failed to heed the counsel of The Brethren on this Gospel Principle. Several years ago I was blessed to have an inspired bishop who came and asked me to share the things I have learned about food storage and emergency preparedness. The information contained in this article is the basis of the lesson that I have taught over the years. I hope that my experiences will assist you as you begin your food storage and other emergency preparedness efforts.

All Things Are Spiritual To The Lord

All our temporal preparations will do us no good if we are not in tune with the guidance of the spirit. We need to listen to the promptings of the spirit as we make our preparations. All things are spiritual to the Lord, including our temporal preparations. If we listen to the spirit as we prepare, the Lord will guide us and help us make the right decisions in how and what we prepare. What may be right for one family may not be appropriate for another. The guidance of the spirit will make sure that we are properly preparing our family and for our personal needs. Seek the Lord's guidance as you prepare.

Why Food Storage?

What are some of the reasons that you would want to have food storage? There are numerous reasons that come to mind. Obedience to the counsel of our prophets and apostles, economic upheaval, job loss, famine, terrorism or war. Any of these by themselves are sufficient cause to follow the principle of food storage. Another reason, which is not thought of much, is the peace of mind that comes from having a reserve of food. The Lord has said, "If ye are prepared ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30).

In the October 2005 General Conference President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Our people for three-quarters of a century have been counseled and encouraged to make such preparation as will assure survival should a calamity come. We can set aside some water, basic food, medicine, and clothing to keep us warm.” Food storage is a gospel principle. Marion G. Romney stated this in the April 1979 General Conference, “Never forget this matter of providing for yourselves, even though you don't hear as much about it now as you did a few years ago. Remember that it is still a fundamental principle, one that has been taught the Saints ever since they came to these valleys of the mountains.”

We have been taught for many years to have a one year supply of food. The Church has released a pamphlet on family home storage called Prepare Every Needful Thing.

The pamphlet teaches us to start with a three month supply of the basic foods we normally eat. To have some water stored, a financial reserve and to work on our long term food storage. While the term one year supply is not used, the principle has never been rescinded and a careful study of welfare topics and Provident Living teaches us to continue to work towards having a full year supply of food for our families. There is no Church statement as to whether your three months supply is to be considered a part of the year supply of food that you can store long term. My personal feeling is that you should store a year supply of long term food in addition to the three months of regular food.  This gives you a fifteen month supply.

I like to use the analogy of a checking and a savings account when I talk about food storage. Your checking account is the food you normally have stored in your pantry. I also call it your “pantry food”. The three month supply of food you would normally eat is your checking account. Once you have built that up and are rotating through it, you can start building up your long term storage. Long term food storage is your savings account. The problem with trying to build up a year supply of the food you normally eat is storage space. One family would need their own little grocery store all to themselves in order to store that much regular food. It would also be difficult to rotate through all that food. This is why the three month supply of normal food is such a good idea, and then you can move into the long term food storage. In addition, if you find yourself living on the items in your long term storage it will take about three months to adjust to your new diet. That being the case your three month supply will help your body as you adjust to these changes.

Long Term Storage

Your food storage savings account consists of foods that you store that have an extended shelf life. These can also be foods that you are rotating through, but do not necessarily have to be regularly rotated. These kinds of foods can be purchased at the church cannery and can also be purchased through some companies that market dehydrated and freeze dried food storage. The church has suggested we store wheat, white rice, corn, and other grains. They also have suggested dry beans, rolled oats, pasta, fruits and vegetables, powdered milk, sugar, honey and salt. A few other miscellaneous items, such as TVP (texturized vegetable protein), cheese powder, gelatin and soup mixes (without bouillon) have also been suggested in years past. Currently the church has focused on wheat, white rice, corn, and other grains and dry beans. The reason for this is that they wanted to focus on foods with a long shelf life. This is not to say that these other items can not be stored for extended periods of time if properly packaged. I would suggest that you follow the church counsel and then add these other items for variety. The advantage to the church cannery is the cost. You can check for a Cannery location near you.

It is much less expensive to purchase food in the #10 cans at the cannery. They have a good shelf life too. The shelf life varies depending on the product. Products from the church cannery have a long shelf life. Wheat, white rice, pinto beans, apple slices, corn, sugar, pasta, rolled oats, and potato flakes have a 30 year shelf life, while powdered milk and dehydrated carrots have a 20 year shelf life. This assumes proper packaging and storage conditions. The cooler you can store your food the longer the shelf life. Once opened the shelf life is typically one year. After you have opened a #10 can you will want to put a plastic lid on to seal the can. The cannery provides plastic lids for the cans you purchase. The advantage to the church cannery is the lowered costs. The disadvantage is the lack of variety that is available. The products available at the church cannery can be found online or through your local cannery.

There are a number of major companies that market freeze dried and dehydrated foods with a shelf life of 20+ years on their products. The biggest name in freeze dried and dehydrated foods is Mountain House. Other reputable companies include Emergency Essentials, Augason FarmsMy Patriot SupplyReady WiseLegacy Food StorageThe Ready StoreHoneyville Grain, Walton Feed now known as Rainy Day Foods and Shelf Reliance now known as Thrive Life.   As you choose the company you wish to do business with, make sure to research their products carefully. A number of companies are Mountain House distributors and sell the same products under their own label. Watch for things like the number of calories contained in their kits, or the costs as compared to another company. Be sure to do a cost analysis and make sure that you are getting the best deal available to you for your money.

The two companies whose products I have tried and am most familiar with are Mountain House and Augason Farms. Mountain House produces the Provident Pantry line of #10 canned foods that were carried by Emergency Essentials.  Emergency Essentials now has their own food line called Emergency Essentials.  I do not know who does their dehydration or freeze dry process as they would not tell me.  As big as the company is I would imagine they are using a big name, but there is no guarantee.  Mountain House also produce Thrive Foods #10 cans for Thrive Life.  Mountain House is produced by Oregon Freeze Dry. Oregon Freeze Dry has held contracts with the United States military. They have also been providing freeze dried foods for campers and hikers for years. Both companies offer a 20+ year shelf life. Mountain House has both freeze dried and dehydrated foods. Mountain House has opened canned foods from 20 years ago without any problems. The advantage of using freeze dried food companies is the variety of foods available that have an extended shelf life. The disadvantage is the cost. Freeze dried and dehydrated foods are expensive. Most of these companies carry pre-built kits of one month, three month, six month and one year supply.  They contain a variety of food that is designed to feed one person for the indicated length of time.  The thing to note is that each kit contains different calorie/day counts. You need to be aware of what you are purchasing. Most of these kits contain less then your daily caloric intake. If you are aware of this you can plan accordingly to build these kits up or purchase extra ones to increase your calorie count. In spite of the lower calorie count I still like these kits due to the variety of foods, long shelf life and ease of storage.  The other thing to be aware of is the difference in taste and texture. Freeze dried foods maintain their original taste and texture. Dehydrated foods maintain about 80% of their original taste and texture.

Augason Farms is the company that bought out The Blue Chip Group, who produced Morning Moo. Augason Farm has a variety of items with varying shelf lives from 3-25 years.  They in turn were recently purchased by Emergency Essentials.  

Whatever choice you make in looking into canned, dehydrated and freeze dried food products, be sure to do some research on the company. There have been a lot of “fly by night” dehydrated and freeze dry companies that tried to make a quick buck off of Y2K type fears and do not make quality products. Remember, if you buy a five dollar sleeping bag at the discount or dollar store, you have purchased something that will not last. You get what you pay for.

Another overlooked item in food storage is comfort food. Once you have established a good solid year supply of long term foods, you should think about things that you would like to have. If you are surviving on long term storage foods think of what a treat it would be to have some cookies, or brownies, or whatever food item is a treat for you. These may be items that have a shorter shelf life and would need to be a part of your “pantry food” but would be worth having. Some hard candies can last for years and still taste good. Keep this idea in mind as you make your preparations. There would be nothing like a good cup of hot chocolate in the middle of winter if all you have been drinking is water and powdered milk.

Another option you may consider would be MRE's. This stands for Meals Ready to Eat. The miliatry uses MRE's as their field rations. They have a much shorter shelf life. They are expensive, but do offer a change in your diet and require no cooking. They can be eaten without heating, but are best when warmed. I personally store some MRE's, but would not recommend large quantities due to a significantly shorter shelf life and expense. You can expect 3-7 years, depending on your storage conditions, for an MRE.

An important factor regarding your shelf life is the temperature you store your foods at. The colder the better. If you have a cold storage room that would be your best location. Cool temperatures extend the shelf life. Higher temperatures will reduce your shelf life. I also suggest you keep all your food items stored away from sunlight as best as possible too.

As you work on your long term storage you should also think about creating "layers" of food types you eat.  Put up some of the basics to make certain meal types.  As you build up a supply of food to make some basic meals you can begin to add another "layer" to create other meal types.  This allows you to purchase some specific food varieties that allow you to create different meals so you do not find yourself eating just wheat mush for breakfast and rice and beans for lunch and dinner.

For example you may purchase wheat and oatmeal as breakfast foods.  Add in some sugar to sweeten your morning cereals made from these two foods.  Purchasing rice, beans and TVP would give you lunch and dinner.  Adding in some carrots, peas or corn would add another food type and flavor to your lunch and dinner.  Later you could add some fruits to include in breakfast cereals and perhaps muffin mix or pancake mix for extra variety.  You could also add some pre made entrees into the lunch and dinner category and now you have greatly expanded your food selections.  There are numerous options available as you look through the basics and then nicer FD or dehydrated foods to create a larger variety of foods to eat.

Make sure you also remember to store a variety of seasonings to help give your food flavor.  This can include powdered soup bouillon.  Recently I have started to store some of my seasonings in mylar bags that I sealed with a vacuum sealer.

Water Storage

Water storage is difficult to find a good solution for any extended period of time. Prior to the current information on Provident Living, the church recommendation was to have 1 gallon of water per person in the home for fourteen days. That equaled 14 gallons of water per person in the home for a two week supply. The suggestion was that half the water be used for culinary purposes and half for cleaning and other purposes. This would be the bare minimum I would suggest to anyone. Personally I think at minimum a two to three month supply would be better. While it is not impossilbe to store a year supply of water in your home, it is very space consuming.

There are a couple of ways that I like to store water. I use some 55 gallon barrels and some 7 gallon jerry can style containers with treated water. There are many different sizes to the barrels and jugs. You just have to decide what is right for you. You can also use 2 liter soda bottles and the heavy grade plastic bottles that fruit juices come in. Of course all containers need to be cleaned out first, especially those that have had previous contents. Do not use milk jugs. They break down quickly and your water will leak out. I use treated water as my non culinary water supply. For culinary purposes I like to buy the cases of bottled water. My preference is the one pint bottles that come in 32 packs. Each bottle is a single serving without breaking the seal on larger bottles.  Some people have experienced a "plastic taste" after having water bottles for any length of time.  I personally have not had this experience, but others have, so make your own decision on this option.  Having a hand pump and a siphon to get the water out of large barrels is also necessary.  My preference is to use a self priming siphon for my water barrels. You will need a bung wrench to open the barrels so make sure you have at least one. I have two in case one breaks.

Whatever type of water storage method you choose to use, the water needs to be stored away from light and in a cool place. Heat and light promote bacteria growth. I also store chemicals that can be used to treat water. Bleach is the most common chemical for water treatment. Bleach contains 5% chlorine which is what purifies the water. The problem with bleach, if you plan on storing it to treat more water in the future, is that the chlorine evaporates within about 9-12 months. Purchasing a can of pool chlorine and test strips would be a better way to store a chemical for water treatment. If you plan on storing chlorine and test kits be sure you know how to safely handle and store the chlorine. If you are unsure contact your local pool and spa supply store and they can educate you. There are different types of pool chlorine and some are not safe for consumption. I also have some water purification tablets, but they are expensive and I prefer other methods that are less expensive.

You can also purchase water filters. The two biggest names on the market are Katadyn and Berkey. Both provide high quality filtration systems, but are expensive.


Along with our food storage we have been counseled to grow our own food. For most of us that means having a small garden. President Kimball said, “We encourage you to grow all the food that you feasibly can on your own property. Berry bushes, grapevines, fruit trees—plant them if your climate is right for their growth. Grow vegetables and eat them from your own yard” (Ensign, May 1976).

A simple garden takes little space but can provide fresh vegetable and fruits to add to your pantry. Provident Living provides some good information on gardening. The internet is also full of good gardening sites. You should also consider storing some seeds for future use. Remember that many companies sell hybrid seeds designed so that they will not reproduce the following year.  You can purchase non hybrid seeds through several online companies.  I have had success buying from Some local nurseries also carry them. I also have stored extra fertilizer for my garden. I like to use Miracle Gro and have had good success using their products in growing my garden. Personally we plant tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, strawberries, potatoes and grapes. It is a small garden, but we enjoy eating the fresh produce from our yard.

72 Hour Kits…Are They Really Necessary?

Why are they needed? Many people think that 72 hour kits are suggested by the church. This is inaccurate, although the church has never said not to have them either. I always ask people why they think a 72 hour kit would be needed. I am going to go through the various reasons people have given me for needing them and my thoughts on each. For the part of West Jordan we live in I do not think they are necessary. There are places that I think they would be a good idea, I just think for our neighborhood a kit that will get you home is a better idea. I call this a Get Home Kit and you store it in your car. This is basically the same concept as a 72 hour kit, but will get you home in the event there is a major disaster and you find yourself walking home. I will talk about them more later on.

First I want to talk about the typical reasons people want 72 hour kits and why I do not think they will work in those scenarios. I have written out my thoughts based on the neighborhood in West Jordan where I live. The concept I teach has application anywhere.


If there is a fire in your home, you are not going to have time to grab a 72 hour kit. You will be busy evacuating your family. There is the possibility that you would have time to grab the 72 hour kit on your way out, but it should not be a priority. Your first responsibility will be to get your family to safety. If your house burns down, you will have friends, family and the ward that will help you out. Your insurance company will also be providing you with a place to stay.


There is not a water source in our area that would cause a flood which would create a need to evacuate. There is the possibility of your pipes breaking and flooding out part or your entire house. In that event, you will have friends, family and the ward to help out. Depending on your insurance coverage, they will be providing a place to stay. A 72 hour kit might be nice, but probably unnecessary.


The University of Utah Geology Department has done extensive research on earthquakes in our area.  The area we live in is assessed as a low damage area, particularly a section of our neighborhood.

Looking at the first map we can see our neighborhood falls into the pink/purple and blue color categories. You can see our neighborhood in the second map in the red circle. The two red dots indicate the two chapels in our stake. Checking the color coding it shows our damage ratings from 0.2 – 0.6. The majority of our neighborhood appears to be in the 0.3-0.5 rating which shows low damage and does not include a collapse of structures. This information is based on a 7.0 earthquake. The information listed indicates that our damage will be low and leads me to believe that we will be able to stay in our homes in the aftermath of an earthquake. If you felt the need to leave you could grab a 72 hour kit, but you would also be able to load up on supplies from your storage.

Storms/power outages

If we face a storm that knocks out the power and other utilities, where would you evacuate to? If it is wintertime, would you rather stay in your home with your stores and warm clothing or pack up and leave? A county wide disaster will not leave you anywhere to go unless you have family nearby that you can reach. You would be better off staying home and riding out the storms. All your supplies and warm clothing will be in your home and anywhere else you evacuate to will probably have the same utility loss problems as your home. Unless there is some sort of hazard to your home you are likely to be better off staying home.


West Jordan is a very unlikely target for terrorism. The most likely threat that we could face in a terrorist attack is a biological attack, dirty bombs or a car bomb. Terrorists would be looking for a target that would cause mass casualties like in the downtown area. Jordan Landing would be a large target, but not like the downtown area. The National Guard base is also a low target as it would not provide mass casualties. Any attack of a terrorist nature in the downtown area is very unlikely to affect us. Radiation from a dirty bomb is unlikely to come anywhere near us, just as a biological attack is unlikely to reach us. Infected people from a biological attack would probably be quarantined before they could spread out of the initial attack area. If a contagion spread we could all quarantine ourselves in our homes. Car bombs in any area but our immediate vicinity will not affect us at all. Again for our area, the need for a 72 hour kit related to a terrorist attack would probably be unnecessary.


If an army was marching through Salt Lake County we would probably flee from our homes. In the unlikely event this happened, there would be forewarning and we would be taking far more then three days of supplies with us. I do not think this is a likely scenario.

The Prophet

If a call from the prophet came telling us we had a few minutes to grab some things and leave, a 72 hour kit would be good to have. However, any such announcement from the prophet would take time to circulate through the wards and stakes of the valley and you would have time to gather some things to take with you.

So What Would Be Better To Have

A far more useful item for us in our area is what I call a Car Kit or a Get Home Kit. This kit stays in your car. The idea behind a car kit is having supplies that will help you get home in the event a disaster occurs while you are away from home. If you are at work or are out shopping when an earthquake or some other major disaster strikes it would be better to have a kit in your car that helps you get home. In the event of a major earthquake this county is probably going to be wrecked. An earthquake of disastrous magnitude will likely destroy the road system making it impossible to drive. If somehow the roads are still open, they will be so packed with traffic as to make vehicular traffic improbable. You would be better off by planning on walking home from wherever you are. I plan for a two day walk home. I believe a healthy adult, even in the event of a disaster, can walk anywhere in the county in two days or less. If you have small kids, you can plan on that taking even longer and should plan your kit(s) with that in mind. The kinds of food items you want in your kit are things that can take extreme trunk temperatures for an extended length of time without degrading their nutritional value.

I have used MRE’s in the past, but over the course of a summer in the trunk they are cooking and cooling every single day. This quickly degrades the taste, texture and nutritional value of the food. I have also used Mountain House freeze dried pouches, but again you have the degradation from heat to the food product. The Coast Guard uses the Mainstay Calorie Bar as their emergency food storage on their ships. The biggest benefit to this item is the five year shelf life at any temperature between -40 deg F to 300 deg F. They are also non thirst promoting. I have used them and they are easy to eat without anything to wash them down. They come in three sizes, but I recommend the 3600 calorie bar. There are several other brands on the market that I am less familiar with.  Do your research if you choose a different brand and make sure it meets your needs.

One of these bars would give you two days at 1800 calories. Personally I have two in my kit plus a couple of the Mountain House pouches. I have at times put energy bars, protein bars and MRE's into my kit as well. I also keep a minimum of four 1 pint water bottles. I also suggest keeping a pair of durable pants, a t-shirt, a pair of shoes you are comfortable walking long distances in, a spare set of shoelaces, two pair of socks and a good fixed blade knife. I generally do not worry about winter gear because I will already have winter items with me if it is wintertime. If you do not normally have winter gloves and hat, I would suggest adding at least a pair of wool liner gloves which can be purchased at any grocery store for a couple dollars and a wool watch cap, which can be purchased at any department type store for around five dollars. These can be added into the kit and take little space. You could also add a woolen blanket to your kit. I like a fixed blade knife because it is a versatile tool which may come in handy. The knife needs to include a sheath to prevent accidental cuts. I would also keep a small amount of cash inside the kit as well. A small zip lock baggie with $10-20 in one dollar bills would be a good idea. You could also use the mini M&M tubes to hold quarters. Each tube will hold about $14 in quarters. These are simple to store in the kit and provide some emergency cash. They are also water proof and have a lid that you can reclose if you use some of the quarters. If you use paper rolled coin they may become damaged by water or by the shifting movement of your pack. The plastic rolls will not be a problem with water, but once you start cutting them they are not as stable a container. For paper money small bills are a must so that you do not have to pay for a one dollar item with a twenty and not get any change back. Remember, if you are forced to use your car kit, there probably is not any power and your debit cards, credit cards and ATM cards will not be working. It is also unlikely that a check would be accepted.

All these items should be stored in some kind of backpack. This keeps your hands free for any other activities you may have to perform. A school backpack is a poor choice but if that is your only option it is better then nothing. There are a great many options available that are highly durable. There are companies that manufacture packs for the military that are highly durable and have been tested in the field with good results. My preferred backpack is made by 5.11 Tactical. They make three sizes and I use the Rush 24 for my car kit. The other companies that I like are BlackhawkTactical Assault Gear, and Camelbak. All three companies have high quality products with good reputations. There are many other options out there, these just happen to be my personal preferences. There are also companies that manufacture packs for hiking and camping, again with good reputations. These are highly durable packs and will withstand the wear and tear of riding in the trunk of your vehicle. This may not sound like a big deal, but a school type backpack may create friction points from sliding around the trunk. These friction points create a weakness in the material that might result in dumping out the contents of your kit when you go to put it on. If you buy a $10 backpack that is what you will get. It is better to pay a little more for an item that will hold up in the event you need it. There are also a few less expensive options in packs that will serve you well, but lack some of the extra features in the more expensive packs. My choice of less expensive packs are the German Mountain Rucksack and the US Army ALICE Pack, with metal frame or you can purchase it with just shoulder straps.  Honestly though, for a few dollars more you can get a pretty high quality pack from a large name manufacturer and would be my recommendation.

After you build your kit you need to try it on and walk around with if for a little while. This will give you an idea on the weight and balance of the pack. You need to make sure your pack will work for you. If it is too heavy you will need to make some adjustments so that you can actually carry your supplies.

Let me also add these final thoughts on 72 hour kits. I am not opposed to the idea of 72 hour kits I just feel for most neighborhoods a Car Kit is a better idea. Personally I also have 72 hour kits in my home and I believe there are areas that a 72 hour kit in addition to a Car Kit is a good idea. Personally I prefer to build my own kits, but some people would rather go out and buy one. Use good judgement if you choose to buy a pre made kit. You need to assess the quality of the pack and the contents. Most kits are filled with items that you really do not need, or could add into a kit yourself for a lot less money.

How Will You Cook and Stay Warm

In the event of a large scale disaster you need to think about alternative ways to cook and heat. Salt Lake County is long overdue for a major earthquake. Some of the studies I have looked at have said that the county will break into several areas that will not be able to physically interact. I do not know what was meant, but I assumed that fault line shifts and damage would cut areas of the county off from foot and vehicle traffic. In any event, the damage to this county may be extensive to the point we could be without utilities for an extended period of time. If there is no power or gas for six months how will you cook? Most of us have propane grills, but that is a very inefficient way of using your fuel for cooking. If you have a side burner on your grill that will improve the efficiency of the propane you have on hand. Most people only have one propane tank and it will not take long to use it up if that is your only source of cooking. It would be a good idea to have a couple of extra tanks of propane. It would also be wise to find some other way to cook. Camping stoves are another good option. Coleman makes a good line of stoves that run on small fuel tanks and you can buy adaptors that allow for use with propane tanks. Propane can not safely be used in enclosed spaces. You will need to be outside in order to have proper ventilation. If you use propane, or the Coleman fuels indoors, you run the risk of asphyxiating your family.

Another way too cook safely indoors would be to use a butane stove.  Catering companies use butane to heat foods indoors. 

Another outdoor option is to use a rocket stove.  You need a minimal amount of wood to cook.

Another option is to learn to cook with Dutch Ovens. Cooking with a Volcano Stove with your Dutch Ovens would be very efficient. With a Volcano Stove and 300 lbs. of charcoal briquettes a family of six can cook for approximately one year. The Volcano Stove can also be used to cook with pots and pans. There are printouts that list how many briquettes are required to create different temperatures. Never cook indoors using charcoal briquettes as they release carbon monoxide which can endanger the safety of your family.

Along with whatever fuel source you choose a simple and fuel efficient way to cook is with a thermal cooker.  For more information see: Saratoga Jacks website.  If you are unable to reach them, feel free to contact me directly and I will assist you.

A wood burning stove is another good option. This would provide both the ability to cook and to heat. The downside to a wood burning stove is the cost. They are expensive and you have to pay for installation, which will include the cost of a chimney if you do not already have one. This is the only option that would allow for both cooking and heating for an extended period of time.

Another heating option would be to use a kerosene heater. There are kerosene heaters that can be used safely inside your home. I have never used one and am not familiar with them, but I know people who have used them without problem. I was told that you can get through a Utah winter with 100 gallons of kerosene and a heater. I also understand that they stink.  If this is an option you wish to pursue you will need to speak with the manufacturer of the heater to find out if it is one that can be safely used in your home.

Miscellaneous Items

There are many more things that should be considered when making preparations. If you have pets you should plan on how you will take care of them. Nobody else will take care of your pets for you, but with a little planning, you will be able to take care of them. I like my cats and so I have prepared for them to be able to eat as well. Medical issues should be examined as well. If there are members of your family who take prescription medications you need to plan on how to get through an extended period of time without the ability to get more medicine. Most prescriptions are for three months, so in the case of a short term disaster this may not be an issue. If you intend to acquire more then three months of your medications you need to consult with your doctor to see if this is feasible and legal. There are also some websites online that will do a doctor consultation with you so that you can order an emergency supply for storage.  I have never used those sites, so make sure to research them and verify they are providing you prescriptions legally.  

Non prescription medications should also be stored. Over the counter pain relievers and various antacid and anti-diarrhea medications would be a wise choice. If you find you are living for an extended period of time on food storage items you are likely to find some stomach and intestinal discomfort during the transition time as you become used to the dietary changes. After these items you may consider the various non food items that you regularly use in your home. Soap, toothpaste, contact lens solutions, feminine products and toilet paper are among the most common items. You also may consider storing paper plates and plastic silverware for the convenience of not having to wash items. This would also help reduce consumption of your water supplies. Candles, LED lanterns and some good quality flashlights with extra batteries are all good items. I am not a fan of the “shaking” flashlights or the "crank" lights. They do not provide a good amount of light for any length of time. I believe you would be better off investing in a couple of good flashlights and some extra batteries or quality LED lanterns. I would make sure one of the flashlights runs on lithium batteries which have a ten year shelf life. I carry Streamlight, Surefire and 5.11 lights at work and have been quite happy with their quality.  All of us carry LED flashlights.  You also need to realize that a flashlight is a tool designed to help you see something, or accomplish a task and then shut it back off. Flashlights are not for sitting around and reading with or playing games. If you intend to use a flashlight in that manner you had better stock up on a lot of batteries. If you use your flashlights in this manner you will quickly use up your battery supply. Take some time to go through your home and see what sorts of non food items you use regularly and then stock up on them. Also consider what you would not be able to use if the utilities were out for an extended period of time and see if there is something you could purchase as a replacement to use if the utilities were out.

You also should have some cash in the home. The amount you decide on should be no more than you can reasonably afford to not have in the bank earning interest for you. Any cash in the home should be stored in a quality safe, if you have one, or very well hidden. This money should be in small bills for the same reasons you would have small bills in a Car Kit.

Self Defense

Anyone who has spent much time with me knows I am a big advocate of self defense. I have always felt this way and my profession has solidified this feeling. For those of you who do not know me I am a Police Officer and have been in the profession for over twenty five years. I generally do not talk much about self defense unless asked to or it comes up naturally during this lesson. The next section is called The Controversial Item. If the topic makes you uncomfortable, skip past to the next section. I do recommend at least reading the section. If nothing else, it will give you some food for thought. It may even change your perception on the issue.

No matter what you decide you feel about self defense you need to have actually taken some time to think about it and make sure you can live with the consequences for the choice you make. Both sides of the self defense issue have consequences and you need to be sure you can live with the ones that go with your decision.

The Controversial Item

This is a topic that will scare some people. I strongly encourage those of you who find this topic frightening to first consider what is said. A knee jerk reaction to an item distorted and misrepresented by the liberal media is not the best way to make a decision. Take the time to read, ponder and consider the ramifications for and against this item and then prayerfully ask the Lord for help in determining what is best for you and your family. The correct answer for one family may not be the correct answer for another. Only you and the Lord can determine what is right for you. But you need to take the time to really think about why you might need this item, remove emotional reactions and prejudicial thinking before you can make an inspired decision. Seek the Lord's guidance and you will be led to the right answer for your family.

The Book Of Mormon On Self Defense
When we consider Emergency Preparedness we would do well to recognize there are many people who will not have made preparations to take care of their families. The only possible solution to their problem is to hope for charity, or to take what they need by force. While charity is a virtue and was taught by Christ, it has never been a church practice or doctrine to be victimized by evil men. Consider the following verses from the Book of Mormon.

Alma 43: 46-47 "And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies. And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion."

The Book of Mormon is full of stories of valiant and faithful followers of Christ who were willing to fight to protect themselves. There are some Church members who try to twist the covenant made by the People of Ammon into a defense of pacifism and eventual victimization by evil men. Prominent LDS author Orson Scott Card responded to an email he received on this topic. In part Brother Card had this to say, "You're missing the point. The people (Nephite and Ammonite) were being attacked. The Ammonites, bound by their oath, did not lift a hand to defend themselves. But the Nephites, being compassionate, went to war, not because they had a "warlike culture" (that was the Lamanites and rebel Nephites) but because they could not bear to see a righteous people suffering the slaughter of war. "To stand idly by while murderers commit murder, when protecting their victims is within your power, is not "pacifism," it's either cowardice or arrogance. My righteousness is worth more than your life, such pacifists say."

The initial email and response can be found here: Orson Scott Card

New Orleans
When you consider what happened in the city of New Orleans in the aftermath of the floods caused by the levee break after hurricane Katrina you can see how quickly a city overwhelmed by a large scale disaster can descend into complete anarchy. Police and Fire services were immediately overwhelmed by this disaster. Several hundred New Orleans police officers quit their jobs within 24 hours of the levee break. As a career peace officer I can tell you that if things are bad enough and I do not feel like my family is safe and will be taken care of, I will not show up for work either. I have not met the co-worker yet who feels any different then I do. We are people, we have families to take care of, and despite the fact we have dedicated our lives to a dangerous profession and do so willingly, none of us will sacrifice our families for the sake of the community. Anyone who tells you different is a liar and when society falls apart will not act any different then the rest of us. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do and willingly walk the dangerous path I have chosen, but my family comes first. If I know my family is safe I will be there for you and so will my co-workers. If not I will be happy to take care of my immediate area, but I will not be driving across the valley where I can not take care of my family in the case of an immediate threat to their safety.

Why am I talking about this? Consider the following quotes from a CNN article about New Orleans and consider what could happen to your family or mine.

Relief workers confront 'urban warfare'

Violence disrupts evacuation, rescue efforts in New Orleans NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- Violence disrupted relief efforts Thursday in New Orleans as authorities rescued desperate residents still trapped in the flooded city and tried to evacuate thousands of others living among corpses and human waste. Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown said his agency was attempting to work "under conditions of urban warfare." Police snipers were stationed on the roof of their precinct, trying to protect it from armed miscreants roaming seemingly at will. Officers warned a CNN crew to stay off the streets because of escalating danger, and cautioned others about attempted shootings and rapes by groups of young men. "They have quite a few people running around here with guns," he said. "You got these young teenage boys running around up here raping these girls." Elsewhere, groups of armed men wandered the streets, buildings smoldered and people picked through stores for what they could find. Charity Hospital, one of several facilities attempting to evacuate patients, was forced to halt the effort after coming under sniper fire.

I'm sure you all remember the scenes from the news of the chaos on the streets. What if this happened in your city? For example, a catastrophic earthquake along the Wasatch fault, would overwhelm the public safety system immediately. We may not even have the ability to respond. If roads can not be driven or bridges are out, how will the Fire or Police vehicles reach you? That assumes that the phone system is even working so you can call 911 and ask for help. A major earthquake, one that scientists say we are far overdue to have, would also likely knock out the radio systems that we use at work. An inability to communicate will enhance the problems and decrease the ability of public safety to respond to problems.

Each of you has parents, brothers, sisters, children, someone you call your family. What would you do if you lived in New Orleans and a group of thugs came to your home and wanted what little food you had and then proceeded to rape your wife or daughter. What happens when they tie you up and make you watch as they torture, rape then kill your loved ones. Do you really believe for a second that kind of evil is not out there? As a career law enforcement officer I can attest to you that not only is that kind of evil out there, it is alive and well and preying on the weak. This is happening right now without some kind of disaster going on to start this problem. These sorts of crimes are happening right now in Salt Lake County on...a regular basis.

The Controversial Item Discussed
Where is this all going? What am I talking about? The Controversial Item. I am talking about guns.

Ok, some of you need to take a deep breath and calm yourselves. I guarantee that someone reading this just thought "guns are dangerous." When someone says this to me, I always ask that person to tell me why. The only response I get is the statement, "cause guns are dangerous." A gun is nothing more or less then a tool. You need to overcome your irrational fear and take an unbiased look at this tool and recognize that one may even save your life someday.

Our society has created an unrealistic perception about guns. Look back at the article you just read on the aftermath of Katrina. Armed thugs were wandering the city stealing, raping and murdering. This sort of behavior occurs in Salt Lake County every night with an active police force patrolling the streets twenty four hours a day seven days a week. Think about that for a minute. We have a police presence 24 hours a day 7 days a week and that behavior happens every night. What do you really think will happen if some catastrophic event brings the law enforcement system to an immediate halt? There are people in this community who would love nothing more then to see this happen. They will take advantage of a catastrophe to wreak their brand of havoc on society when it happens, and the Prophets have told us it will come. You would be well advised to have prepared to defend yourself and your family. Again, the Lord has never taught us to be victimized by evil men.

Responsible Firearm Ownership
I am a strong advocate of responsible firearms ownership. I am also a supporter of the Concealed Firearms Permit laws in our state and encourage everyone who is eligible to get one. I recommend the ownership of firearms that you can use to both defend yourself and to put food on the table. There are guns that are for hunting and there are guns used for self defense. A few are interchangeable in their use, but you would do better to have guns that are for suited to each specific purpose. I personally have firearms for self defense, hunting and a couple that can be used for either. In any event, having at least one firearm and a reasonable amount of ammuntion is a must. Part of responsible firearms ownership is learning the proper handling and care of your guns. If you are someone who has never been around or handled guns, then some sort of training is in your best interest. It can be as simple as taking a hunter safety course, or more specialized self defense courses. All of these classes include basic firearms handling and safety training. Proper handling includes proper storage of your guns and teaching your children safety rules as well. My children have grown up around firearms and I have taught them gun safety. Even with the training my kids have recieved, I still have a gun safe to lock them up. This keeps my firearms out of the curious little hands of neighboring kids who come to our house and play. I also store my more mundane tools in places that my children can not get to them and harm themselves. I also keep dangerous chemicals out of their reach. Again, they are just tools and not dangerous in and of themselves. The misuse or mishandling of a tool is where the problem arises. An axe or hammer or power saw can kill just as easily as a gun. Guns are not dangerous, stupid people with guns are dangerous. Power saws are not dangerous, stupid people with power saws are dangerous. You are more likely to be killed or injured driving your car then you are to be hurt by a firearm.

What Would You Do?
Consider again the aftermath of Katrina and the effect it had on law enforcement. Under normal circumstances the police respond to a crime after it has occurred to investigate what happened and gather evidence to send to the District Attorney's Office for prosecution. Unfortunately, in most circumstances the crime has been committed and the suspect fled long before we can arrive. There are people out there who will hurt you and take what you have because they can. That is reality. There are people out there who will hurt you...just because. That is reality and it is getting worse. Several years ago there was a program on KATU TV in Portland, Oregon. The show was called Town Hall. The host was a man named Jack Faust. He did a show covering the topic of Emergency Preparedness. He had guests on who spoke about what kinds of preparations they had made. One of his guests made a chilling statement, "I don't have to have supplies, but I know where he lives (pointing to the previous man). I have plenty of guns and ammunition. I plan to go take his stuff to support my family." He was not joking, but was dead serious about using force to take what he needed from someone else to take care of his family.

Let me reiterate, there are people out there who will hurt you and take what you have because they can. There are lots of them who live in Salt Lake County. I know, I have talked with and arrested many of them. What if you had to deal with someone like that on your own? Are you prepared?

Here is another thought. I have spoken with people who have seen the next item happening at gun shows they have attended. A few years ago, just prior to the Y2K scare, there was a group of individuals that were selling lists of "known" Mormons. They were selling Stake and Ward congregation directories. The idea behind this was: don't worry about preparing yourselves, just use your guns to take what someone else has already prepared. A fellow officer saw this happening.

Mormons are known for many things, including food storage and emergency preparedness. You would be wise to anticipate this sort of mentality in the case of a disaster. I have learned over the years that some people are deterred by thing only...the use of force. The only thing that deters them is the threat of force being used against them. Predators look for victims. If someone comes to your home armed with a gun, you have two choices. You can be victimized and probably hurt or killed, or you can be prepared to protect yourself. Remember that there are worse things that people can do to you then kill you.

You also need to study state laws where you live so that you understand what levels of force you can legally use and under what circumstances they are justified.

In Conclusion
Self defense is a touchy subject, especially when we begin to discuss firearms. Whatever you decide, make sure that you ponder and prayerfully consider the whole idea of self defense. I'm not just talking about firearms. Just like with all other aspects of Emergency Preparedness, all things must considered prayerfully so that you make the right choices for yourself and your family.

Useful Reading Materials

The best book I have found on the topic of emergency preparedness and food storage is Dare To Prepare. This book is an amazing resource for information on many topics. The best LDS oriented book I have found is called Prophetic Statements on Food Storage for Latter Day Saints by Neil Leash. The best book on the events of the last days is The Coming of the Lord by Gerald Lund. Both of these books are available through the Salt Lake County Library or you can purchase them at Amazon.

Some of you may be wondering why I have included books on the topic of the Last Days. Elder Packer recently said, “If 9/11 (September 11, 2001) was a wake-up call, then the earthquake and tsunami in Southeast Asia (on December 26, 2004), was a kick out of bed. We need to pay attention to the signs of the times.” (Boyd K. Packer in a meeting of the Twelve and the Seventy, January 11, 2005).

We are living in the Last Days and some of the events that precede the Second Coming will require food storage and emergency preparedness. These books contain information on those events and it is worth knowing the prophecies about these events that are to come.

Who Is Responsible For My Well Being?

Some people think that the church will take care of us and we do not need to worry about this counsel. A Regional Welfare Specialist informed me that the Church has enough food stored to feed one family in each ward in the world one meal and then the Church is out of stored food. In the 1986 April General Conference Elder James E. Faust had this to say on the topic, “The Church cannot be expected to provide for every one of its millions of members in case of public or personal disaster.” In the October 2001 General Conference President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “As we have been continuously counseled for more than 60 years, let us have some food set aside that would sustain us for a time in case of need.” President Spencer W. Kimball said, “No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else. So long as he can, under the inspiration of the Lord and with his own labors, he will supply himself and his family with the spiritual and temporal necessities of life” (Welfare Services: The Gospel in Action, “Ensign, Nov. 1977). Others think that we will all pool our food together in some twisted version of the Law of Consecration and there is no need for them to store food. This is one of the most absurd concepts I have ever heard of. This mentality says that a person can choose to be willfully disobedient and expect to be taken care of by someone else. This is in direct contradiction to the Lord’s promise: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say: but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:10). Those who believe in this concept are those who believe that someone else should put up a year supply of food for them to eat. They have placed the burden of responsibility on someone other then themselves. I fail to see how the family that chooses to ignore this principle and spend their money on other things can expect another family to feed them when they have refused to follow the prophet. That would be like me expecting to gain the blessings from someone else paying tithing on their income and my not paying my own tithing. Boyd K. Packer from his book The Holy Temple points out whose responsibility it is to store food and be prepared, "Consider this comparison. In the welfare program we have been counseled for generations by the leaders of the Church to secure for ourselves a year's supply of food and clothing, and if possible fuel, and to be concerned for our shelter. This is a responsibility laid upon the individual memebers of the Church, upon each family. The commodities are to be stored at home. They are to be privately purchased, privately stored, and in time of crisis privately used. It is not ever suggested that because we have bishop's storehouses there would be no need for individual families to maintain their year's supply. The counsel for the individual to protect himself and his family has never been withdrawn. It has been continually emphasized." The problem with this philosophy is that people confuse the idea of charity for the truly needy and less fortunate and helping those who willfully rebel against God. There is a vast difference between the inability to prepare and the refusal to prepare. President Spencer W. Kimball taught us that the Parable of the Ten Virgins was about the active members of the church. In Matthew 25: 8-9 it says, “And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves”. As we all know five of the virgins were prepared with their oil in their lamps and five were not. When the bridegroom arrived the five unprepared virgins asked the five who were prepared to share their oil. The five prepared virgins were not able to help because they would have been unable to keep their own lamps lit. The five unprepared virgins suffered the consequences of their actions, or rather their inactions in preparing. The same concept applies to emergency preparedness and food storage. We are each responsible to take care of our families and can not be expected to be responsible for providing for someone else. The head of each household has a responsibility to care for their immediate family. If there is food to spare then charity can begin, but for someone to expect another to allow their own family to suffer because of the choice to ignore the counsel of the prophets is inappropriate and selfish.

Others think that pooled food will magically feed everyone. I think it is wonderful that these people have the faith that the food of the obedient will feed everyone. It is sad that they lack the faith to follow the counsel of the Prophet and become self reliant. 

I was asked in the fall of 2021 by my Stake President to speak in each ward of the stake.  I go over this information in greater detail in my talk.  You can read Temporal Matters here.


Charity and helping the needy has always been a gospel principle. Who you help and how you go about it is something that only you can determine. If we are in tune with the spirit we will know if and when we should help others. The prophet could also come out with a statement on how we are to act which would supersede anything else that has been said. I have put away a little extra food that I intend to use for charity. The spirit will dictate who receives that help. As I said at the start, being spiritually prepared will be the key to all our decision making processes.

I would like to close with the words of President Ezra Taft Benson from his talk, Prepare For The Days Of Tribulation, which was printed in the November 1980 Ensign. President Benson said, “The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah…Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine, and earthquake cannot happen here. Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them. Those who smugly think these calamities will not happen, that they somehow will be set aside because of the righteousness of the Saints, are deceived and will rue the day they harbored such a delusion. The Lord has warned and forewarned us against a day of great tribulation and given us counsel, through His servants, on how we can be prepared for these difficult times. Have we heeded His counsel?"

Are we listening? Are we heeding the counsel of the Lord’s prophets?

© Jason Robey 2022


  1. Don't know if my comment went through...
    Would like to use your article to make copies for ward members. I'm the food storage person in our Gunnison Utah 5th ward. I need your permission to do so. It's a really great article. Thanks!
    Loy Deskins

  2. Absolutely you may print it and use it. All I ask is that you put the link to the page and keep my name and copyright on the printouts. I had your calling at the ward level and now have it at the stake level. Let me know if I can help out any other way.

  3. I would like to send you a copy of the cover letter I used for the handout. Do you have an email? Maybe it's not important. But I would like to discuss other ideas for my calling. I want to make hard tack, bag samples, and attach a copy of the history of hard tack, longevity, and the recipe. I've made some for myself. If they can't afford canned food storage, they can surely make hard tack. Thanks! Loy Deskins

  4. You can email me: terrortunes @